Police analyze diary from judge's computer
February 17, 2002

The Orange County Register

Police investigators are analyzing a document written in diary form that suggests a local judge accused of child molestation may have used his position as a Little League umpire to ogle dozens of underage boys and to get close to one boy to whom he was attracted.

The document, recovered by police from the computer of Orange County Superior Court Judge Ronald C. Kline, contains no mention of sexual contact with the underage boys.

But detectives are scouring the document's seemingly detailed accounts of meetings and conversations with boys for evidence of potential crimes.

"We authenticated the diary before we acted on it," said Irvine police Sgt. Tom Little. "We made sure it wasn't authored by somebody out to discredit the judge."

Kline, 61, is under house arrest awaiting trial on federal charges of possessing child pornography and on state charges of allegedly molesting a boy nearly 25 years ago, before he was a judge.

Kline, who remains a candidate for re-election in the March 5 election, declined comment.

His attorney, Paul S. Meyer, issued a statement criticizing the distribution of the diary.

"There is no indication that these thoughts were ever communicated to anyone," Meyer said. "The publication of these private thoughts serves no purpose except to embarrass the judge. Thinking is not a crime in this country."

The writings were initially stolen from Kline's computer by a hacker, then passed to anti-pedophile groups before being turned over to police. A copy of the document also was e-mailed to a Register reporter.

But the intimate writings - interspersed with references to court cases, analyses of literary works and memoirs of daily life - appear to describe Kline's emotional struggle over his fascination with the bodies of young Orange County boys, many of whom are mentioned by name. The document also describes the author's hesitancy to act on those feelings. In portions of the diary, the author describes frequent stints working as an umpire or just hanging around south Orange County Little League baseball games.

The author of the diary describes himself as an Orange County judge and Little League umpire who owns a Porsche sports car, all traits that also describe Kline. Some of the accounts in the diary have been independently corroborated.

The narratives describe the author's infatuation with the bodies of child athletes.

The contents of the diary are particularly disturbing to the family of one local Little League player, whose name appears frequently in the writings. The Register is not identifying the boy, then 13, or his relatives because of his age and the sensitive nature of the case.

In repeated instances, the author discusses a physical and emotional attraction to the boy and describes how he befriended the child's divorced parents in an effort to secure time alone with the boy. Several times, the author states that he accompanied the boy and his father for pizza after games. During one pizza outing, the author recalled rubbing the boy's back with his hand.

On July 19, 2000, the diary states, the author took the boy - alone - to watch Little League games.

Before picking the boy up, he washed his Porsche and cleaned his Irvine home. "Anyway, it seemed to me like I was getting ready for a date," the diary entry said.

After bringing the boy back to the grandparents' house, the author hugged the boy, according to the diary.

Other passages portray the author as fantasizing about taking the boy to a professional baseball game or to a local gym and then having him sleep over at the judge's house.

Relatives recalled Kline's asking to take the boy to a gymnasium but said the child did not go because he was feeling ill.

On Nov. 8, investigators removed the boy from class and interviewed him about his encounters with Kline, his mother said. The boy told officers that he had not been sexually molested.

Relatives said they had long been concerned and suspicious about Kline's seemingly unusual fondness for the child. Kline would offer to take the boy to practices or to Angels baseball games. Sometimes he would show up unannounced, asking to take the boy out for ice cream, the mom said.

The boy's family said they found it strange that Kline would largely ignore adults in the home and shower attention on the boy.

"It just didn't seem right," his mother said Saturday. "I asked everybody at the (Little League) games, 'Is there something weird about Ron?' Everybody would say, 'He's great with the kids.'"

The boy's grandparents said they called the courthouse to confirm he was a judge. The family allowed him to visit because of his good reputation in the Little League.

"I figured it was just me," the mother said. "You don't want to accuse somebody of something so bad."

Officials at Little League District 55 said they never heard allegations of unusual conduct.

"I learned (about the allegations) at the same time everyone else did, which was when the news broke (in December)," said Ron Gilleland, district administrator for the local leagues.

"I know Ron Kline. He was a nice guy. No one, as far as my staff was concerned, saw anything."

The diary could be a significant piece of evidence in Kline's upcoming trials on state and federal charges.

If proven to have been written by Kline, the diary could help prosecutors show that pornographic pictures of children allegedly removed from Kline's computer memory were possessed for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification, legal experts said.

Western State University law professor Brent Romney said the writings are legally admissible even though they were originally stolen, so long as police were not responsible for the illegal conduct.

"The prosecution needs to show that the ... photographs are being possessed ... for lewd and lascivious reasons, rather than just research or some other reason," he said. "The diary is admissible to establish a person's intent."